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25 April 2019 | Story Mamosa Makaya

Since 2016, the University of the Free State Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has received a grant from First National Bank worth R2 498 000, which supports tertiary bursaries for students with disabilities. Bursary holders are funded through CUADS, as the administrator of the bursaries.
  
These are students enrolled for various academic programmes who require academic assistance and/or assistive devices such as electronic handheld magnifiers, laptops, and hearing aids. The FNB grant also covers tuition, accommodation, study material and books, and meals.  The success of the grant is already evident, with one of the recipients having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2018. A second student was capped at the April 2019 graduations with a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying.
 
Supporting the principles of the ITP

The UFS received the grant from FNB in instalments, starting in the 2016 academic year to date, supporting the needs of 40 disabled students. This grant and the work of CUADS speaks to and supports the principles of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP), namely inclusivity, transformation, and diversity. The vision of the Universal Access work stream is to enable the UFS to create an environment where students with disabilities can experience all aspects of student life equal to their non-disabled peers. The ITP provides for the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities as an important lesson in social justice and an opportunity to reinforce university values.

The successful administration of the grant to benefit past and present students is a ‘feather in the cap’ of CUADS, and is a shining example of the impact of public private investment and the endless possibilities that open up when there is a commitment to developing future leaders in academic spaces, allowing them to thrive by creating a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering. 



News Archive

Researchers explore gender-based violence at schools in Southern Africa
2014-10-17

Prof Dennis Francis
Photo: René-Jean van der Berg


Violence in schools, especially gender violence, has been a much explored and debated topic. But researchers at the University of the Free State (UFS) are now also exploring the link between gender, diversity and violence in schools in Southern Africa.

This study – a first of its kind – received funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and will investigate how the perception of ‘different’ is a contributing factor to violence in schools.

This UNESCO-funded study, in collaboration with Hivos, GALA and the Government of the Netherlands, will involve schools in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

Prof Dennis Francis, UFS Dean of Education and principal researcher in this study, says children and youth around the world are exposed to violence in and around educational settings. “This does not only undermine a child’s rights to quality education, but also the capacity of the education sector to train future citizens who will respect each other regardless of differences.”

Prof Francis says although girls are the most vulnerable targets of GBV, boys can also be targets, as evidence reveals that many children and youths who are perceived as different in terms of gender, are often victims of violence in school.

“Education is the most significant means of fostering social inclusion, promoting individual rights and realising the full potential of all young people, including those perceived as different. This project is aimed at assisting government, policy makers and professionals in the education sector, as well as civil society organisations and other key stakeholders in Southern Africa to create educational policies and practices that promote safe schools for all youths.”


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